The CFPB is proud to recognize the importance of National Whistleblower Day, which occurs every year on July 30th. The American tradition of whistleblowing – revealing information about illegal activity within an organization -- dates at least to Benjamin Franklin and the Revolutionary War. And whistleblowers at financial institutions have long played an important role in alerting the public as well as government agencies to illegal misconduct.
Whistleblowers help the CFPB protect consumers and support the rule of law. The CFPB has welcomed whistleblower allegations since its inception and continues to take concrete steps to ensure that whistleblowers are supported and protected. More recently, we streamlined how tech workers can alert us to potential violations of federal consumer financial laws. Since the CFPB began accepting whistleblower allegations, the use of data and technology in nearly every consumer financial market has transformed the financial landscape. These technologies can help intentional and unintentional discrimination burrow into financial decision-making systems, and whistleblowers can help ensure that technologies are applied in law-abiding ways.
Congress recognized whistleblowers’ important role in the Consumer Financial Protection Act (CFPA). The CFPA provides anti-retaliation protections for employees of providers of consumer financial products and services who share information regarding potential violations. Employees protected by the statute may not be terminated or discriminated against for:
- Providing information to the employer, the CFPB, or any other state, local, or federal government authority or law enforcement agency relating to a violation of federal consumer financial law;
- Testifying about a potential violation;
- Filing any lawsuit or other proceeding under any federal consumer financial law; or
- Objecting to or refusing to participate in violations of federal consumer financial laws.
Additionally, Congress provided safeguards to ensure that these anti-retaliation protections are meaningful. Specifically, the CFPA provides a mechanism for whistleblowers who believe they have been discriminated against to file complaints with the U.S. Department of Labor, which investigates and may order penalties. Congress also indicated that these rights and remedies generally may not be waived, including by any predispute arbitration agreement. This means that the CFPA provides durable protections for employees to blow the whistle with real consequences for companies that break the law.
The Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Financial Protection Act also authorized new whistleblower reward authorities at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). These provisions have proven to be a major success. Since its inception, the SEC whistleblower program has in enforcement actions with orders for nearly $5 billion in total monetary penalties, including more than $3.1 billion in disgorgement and $1.3 billion in investor restitution. Similarly, the CFTC whistleblower program has in monetary sanctions totaling more than $3 billion, with more than $300 million awarded to whistleblowers. In 2020, former CFPB Director Kathleen Kraninger took the important step of engaging with Congress on a proposal for legislation that would similarly authorize the CFPB to award whistleblowers who report violations of Federal consumer financial law that lead to a successful enforcement action. Although the CFPB does not have such authority now, it welcomes whistleblowers to report potential law violations to help inform the CFPB’s work.
The CFPB welcomes information about potential misconduct from current or former employees, contractors, vendors, and competitor companies. Report potential misconduct here.
Whistleblower information and law enforcement tips are distinct from consumer complaints. If you have personally encountered problems with consumer financial services or products, you can submit a complaint with the CFPB.